Clivias for shade

Plant indigenous, water wise clivias this month and allow their vibrant spring blooms to brighten up the shady areas of your garden.


The vivid orange blooms of the indigenous bush lily or clivia (Clivia miniata) are a welcome spring sight in local gardens and remind us that life is a garden with cold, brisk, challenging, warm or cosy at different times of the year. Once the flowering season is over in mid October, the clump-like shape of the evergreen arching dark green leaves of the clivia remain an attractive feature in their own right and by autumn, they display a mass of red berries.

Clivias are always a popular choice for a shady spot in the garden – this is because they are low maintenance, low water plants that look good all year round. In fact, they meet all the requirements of the perfect plant – they bear spectacular flowers, have attractive strap-shaped, dark green leaves, are easy to grow and tolerate indoor conditions. They will even survive if neglected and are disease and drought resistant. In full bloom during September, they make a magnificent show in the garden planted in large groups under evergreen trees or in groups of three in a container. They enjoy a position in full shade, but will tolerate dappled shade or a bit of morning sun.


When used as patio plants, clivias grow best in containers with a diameter of between 10-25cm. Plant in a compost-rich, sandy soil mix. Make sure the container will drain well. Position the container in a shady spot with plenty of fresh air circulation. Three plants in a 35cm diameter container make a decorative pot on a patio or in the garden. Although they will burn in a patio which receives full sunlight, a densely shaded position will prevent them flowering well.

In the wild, clivias grow in woodland and forests from the Eastern Cape to Mpumalanga. They are found in thick mats in shallow, well-drained soil on rocks covered with leaf mould, nature’s mulch. For this reason, keep clivias moist at all times, but avoid overwatering as clivias do not like waterlogged soil.

Success with clivias

  • Plant clivias about 50cm apart in the garden in dense groups for best effect.
  • They do not like regular transplanting and division, so avoid moving them.
  • In late winter, apply ample bone meal and a compost dressing. A layer of leaf mould is ideal as it will also smother weeds.
  • Plant your clivias in well-drained soil. Avoid planting them in clay soil as they will not grow.
  • Water clivias every week during the summer and avoid planting them in clay soils as they loathe being placed in boggy conditions during winter.




Clivias are gross feeders, particularly when grown as container plants. Fertilise with a liquid fertiliser once a month in spring and summer to maximise blooming. Do not fertilise in winter.




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